Micaela Burrow on November 30, 2022
Riot police wearing hazmat suits clashed with demonstrators Tuesday night in the Chinese city of Guangzhou as demonstrations against China’s extreme COVID-19 eradication rules escalated to threats against the regime itself, according to Reuters.
Videos circulating social media of the developments in Guangzhou claimed to show rows of police vehicles and enforcement personnel, protected by shields on all sides, as protesters lobbed small projectiles at enforcement officers, although Reuters could not immediately verify the timing of the videos. While some of the cities where protests eruptedover the weekend, including Guangzhou, made small adjustments to COVID-19 related restrictions, authorities sent police out in force to control the protests.
China’s domestic security chief, Chen Wenqing, pledged to “effectively maintain overall social stability” in a meeting Tuesday, urging law enforcement to “resolutely strike hard against infiltration and sabotage activities by hostile forces, as well as illegal and criminal acts that disrupt social order,” according to CNN.
Guangzhou authorities lifted lockdowns in parts of the city, but authorities did not address the protests or explain the reason for loosening COVID-19 rules as a response to the recent spate of protests, according to Reuters. Guangzhou’s Haizhu District, where police and demonstrators clashed, remained under strict controls.
Videos appeared to show police advancing in formation over what looked like deconstructed lockdown barriers, wearing protective gear and using clear plastic shields to fend off objects being thrown at them by the crowd, according to Reuters. Another video depicted tear gas canister exploding in an alleyway as people rushed to escape the chemicals.
Police escorted demonstrators away from the site in handcuffs, Reuters reported.
Guangzhou, an epicenter of China’s latest COVID-19 outbreak, saw lockdown-related protests erupt on Nov. 15, but the social media posts said the videos were filmed Tuesday night, according to Reuters.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute estimated on Wednesday that at least 51 protests have occurred across 24 cities since Nov. 25, with at least seven taking place on Tuesday.
The outsized police presence in Shanghai appeared to have dissuaded protesters from gathering on Tuesday, according to CNN. One Shanghai protester told CNN officers detained and later released between 80 and 110 people.
The Chinese Communist Party national government has remained silent about the wave of protests. Spokesperson Zhao Ljiang did not respond to a Western journalist’s question regarding whether the uprisings would cause the government to reconsider its restrictive “Zero-Covid” lockdown regime, saying the query “did not reflect what actually happened,” The Guardian reported.
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